CATEGORY: Courts

AUTHOR: MONIQU

HED:Defendant in slaying of husband says she didn't mean to do it

By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

OKOLONA - A weeping Bridgett Elliott took the stand Thursday, telling a 12-member jury in her Chickasaw County Circuit Court murder trial that she did not mean to shoot her husband of eight years.

"I didn't mean to," the 31-year-old mother of three said between sobs. "I want him back. I wish he was back. I love him. I gave him all of my heart. No one in this world can say I didn't."

The Egypt community resident is charged in the late-night Aug. 22, 1996, shooting death of her husband, 30-year-old Robert Elliott.

If convicted, Bridgett Elliott could receive life in prison. If also convicted of aggravated assault against her husband's girlfriend, Danita Doss, another 20 years would be added to her sentence.

During testimony brought Tuesday and Wednesday by the prosecution, Doss testified that she'd had an affair with the victim, who was also her neighbor.

The night of Robert Elliott's death, Doss said they went out together. Later that night, when Doss was driving Elliott home, they noticed a car with no headlights was following them down County Road 404, located off U.S. Highway 45 in the Egypt community.

Doss said her boyfriend's wife then turned on her headlights and followed them down the rural road in the Elliotts' green Jeep Cherokee, repeatedly slamming into the back of the blue Toyota Camry in which Doss and Robert Elliott were traveling.

When the two cars neared the intersection of County Road 404 and Highway 45, Doss said the enraged wife slammed into the Camry again, causing Doss to lose control, rip through a ditch and crash into a tree.

After the crash, in which Doss suffered a broken leg, Bridgett Elliott allegedly left her vehicle and approached her husband, gun in hand.

Doss said Bridgett Elliott began shrieking at her husband, who was still sitting in the passenger side of the wrecked car. She said the wife then shattered the passenger side window and a shot was fired.

Bridgett Elliott said Thursday that she intended to shatter the car window with the barrel of the gun, but not to shoot.

"The gun just went off," she said, holding her face in her hands.

She also said she did not intend to repeatedly ram the back of the Toyota Camry in which Doss and Robert Elliott were traveling.

She said both she and Doss were traveling at "fast speeds" and that she hit the car only twice, after Doss braked unexpectedly.

The air bag in the Elliotts' Jeep was never activated.

The accused murderer said she took the gun out of her family's Jeep when she approached the wrecked Camry because she was afraid of both Doss and her husband.

Bridgett Elliott said a close friend had told her Doss bought a gun with the intention of killing her.

"She said she had a gun for me," Elliott said. "I was afraid. I think I had a reason to be."

She said she feared her husband, the man she has dated since her sophomore year in high school, because he had become abusive the two years before his death.

She said her husband broke her nose about two months before his death. She said he also bit her on her arm and clawed her leg, leaving marks.

Under cross examination, District Attorney Jim Hood asked Elliott how her husband had broken his leg earlier in 1996.

Hood alleged that the injury had occurred during a fight between the couple.

But Bridgett Elliott said her husband slipped on the wet bathroom floor.

She said she blamed her husband's personality changes on drug abuse. She showed a letter her husband wrote to her, saying he was addicted to crack cocaine and wanted help.

"He'd asked me not to leave him," Bridgett said, crying. "His mother asked me not to leave him. ... I wanted to stay with him because I loved him and because we have three children - three babies."

Character witness Beverly Culpepper, who taught the couple's 8-year-old son in second grade, said Bridgett Elliott was a model mother, who regularly visited class, sometimes bringing candy for everyone.

Bridgett Elliott, a Scout leader, also recalled time spent taking her children skating, to karate classes and to church.

She currently has custody of her children, ages 2, 8 and 11.

Closing arguments are expected to be presented this morning, before the eight-woman, four-man jury is asked to reach a verdict.

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